Chevrolet has itself a red-hot SUV with the all-new 2019 Blazer and it delivers a smoking user experience through exciting design cues, across-the-board connectivity and a seemingly flawless voice-command system.
“Big takeaway for me is how the natural voice recognition enhances the navigation and infotainment systems,” judge Drew Winter says of the Blazer, a 2019 Wards 10 Best UX winner and $50,765 as tested. “It is as good as, or better than, systems found in far more expensive vehicles.”
Not only does the 2-row Blazer take natural speech exceptionally well, it also has the capability to uniquely bounce seamlessly between embedded and cloud-based navigation with artificial intelligence to keep the route up-to-the-minute and avoid traffic surprises such as road closures and construction zones.
“Routed me around flooding that would have added an hour or more to my drive,” judge David E. Zoia says.
The natural voice recognition is a key element of the latest-generation Chevy infotainment system, which allows owners to organize and integrate technology from devices such as smartphones while they are stowed safely away on a wireless charger. Bluetooth pairs easily and music can be streamed from two devices. Technology can be personalized for two drivers in case the Blazer is a shared with another family member.
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 4G LTE hotpot also are available, and so is the latest-generation of Marketplace. Marketplace is an app where drivers can safely order their favorite Starbucks or Dunkin’ items from behind the wheel. Other popular restaurants also are available, and if a low-fuel warning occurs offers can be sent from nearby participating filling stations. It is a first-of-its-kind, immersive experience within a branded ecosystem.
The portal to all the connected features and navigation is an 8-in. (20-cm), high-definition touchscreen with big, easy-to-read icons. The screen is set high on the dash, too, for safer interaction.
“Nice, high-res touchscreen and gauge cluster displays with good color and font readability,” says judge Christie Schweinsberg. “No sunlight issues during a morning test.”
Judge Amy Alexander adds: “Love the main infotainment screen and its similarities to a smartphone. Moves more quickly and is more responsive than the previous generation.”
The Blazer’s perforated, leather-trimmed seats have a sporty bolster, the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob feel nice and chunky in the driver’s hands. Unique dual HVAC dials control the heat and air-conditioning, while stem-to-stern panoramic glass bathes passengers in natural light and, with six USB charging ports and a 120V outlet, devices never go uncharged.
Active noise-cancellation technology ensures the Blazer’s five passengers can converse clearly or thoroughly enjoy the Bose premium audio system.
A long list of available advanced driver-assistance systems includes stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, which performs with the industry’s best; front pedestrian braking and HD surround vision, with the latter particularly helpful given the Blazer’s large footprint and high beltline; intelligent headlamps that dim automatically according to the car’s surroundings; forward collision alert and forward automatic braking, as well as front-pedestrian braking; and a rear camera mirror for an unobstructed view out the rear glass.
Standard ADAS includes a subtle-but-effective lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning that doesn’t wake the neighbors, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert and a teen driver technology to promote safe driving habits. Teen driver allows parents to set safety items such as speed alerts, audio volume alerts and even can deliver a report card.
Chevy may not be the first brand buyers think of when it comes to industry-leading UX, but recognition of the Blazer comes on the heels of last year’s UX win for the Chevy Equinox crossover showing the bow-tie brand has both irons in the UX fire.